A place of serenity in Simon’s Town

Bishop Michel Hansrod officially opening the the Lighthouse Renewal Centre at the Simons Town Methodist Church.

There is a new symbol of hope for Simon’s Town after Bishop Michel Hansrod officially opened the Lighthouse Renewal Centre to all on Sunday March 18.

The centre evolved from being a refuge for children, soldiers and sailors, to one for those struggling with alcohol addiction. That home closed three years ago.

Now, under new leadership, it has been redesigned to be a “renewal centre”, for the whole community not just Simon’s Town Methodist Church parishioners.

Reverend Olivia le Roux, who took over the church last year, said the centre was a response to “desperate cries of people who are tired, burdened and ill. The stresses of work, the inability to balance tasks with the need to rest, cause many to seek a place to retreat and be renewed”.

Terry Korsten, a lifelong member of the congregation, said that the building had a long history with the church.

“In 1898, Reverend John Williams felt that there was a great need of a building where sailors from the Royal Navy ships in the bay and soldiers from the garrison could be provided with indoor recreation and overnight accommodation,” he said.

He started raising funds to build such a place. Soon after, Reverend William Caldecott and his wife, Marion, became the driving force behind this idea for a home for soldiers and sailors.

Mr Korsten tells that the well-known writer, Edgar Wallace, who later married Ivy, second daughter of Reverend Caldecott, also became involved.

At the time, he was a medical orderly in the town during the Anglo Boer War. Eventually the home was opened on February 3, 1900 by the Commander-in-Chief, Rear Admiral Sir Robert Harris.

“It is said that during its first year after opening, 6 000 men found overnight accommodation there. Although its use as a soldier and sailors home declined over the years, it saw a renaissance in that the building was given to the Alcoholics Victorious Movement in 1978,” Mr Korstens said.

This home became an integral part of the Simon’s Town Methodist Church until it closed in 2015.

The old building has been transformed, but it remains a place of serenity and refuge for its community.